Boston Bruins clinch playoff spot with win over Penguins
The Boston Bruins punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the sixth straight time after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1.
Two early goals by Trent Frederic and Erik Haula scored just 72 seconds apart in the first 2:01 of the game was all Jeremy Swayman needed. The Bruins backup, playing in place of injured Linus Ullmark stopped 23 of 24 shots en route to the victory.
Boston also snapped their longest losing streak of the season at three games.
“We have a standard here,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We’re not gonna go out and celebrate that we made the playoffs, but it’s still an accomplishment you should be proud of. It’s not easy to do it year in and year out in this league.”
Bruins clinch playoff berth
Boston (46-24-5, 97 points) still has a chance to move up from a wild-card spot in the Atlantic Division as they are just a point behind the Tampa Bay Lighting for third-place.
Frederic made it 1-0 just 49 seconds into regulation. After Craig Smith’s shot from the left-wing boards, Frederic got to the rebound and scored on a backhander.
The puck was pinballing around the crease area in front of DeSmith when Haula got his stick on it. The puck went in off Pittsburgh defenseman Marcus Pettersson at 2:01 to make it 2-0.
Heinen scored for the third straight game and reached a career high with his 17th goal of the season at 5:38 of the second. He took a drop pass from Teddy Blueger and, from above the hash marks, scored on a screened shot that sailed over Swayman’s glove to make it 2-1.
The Bruins won despite going 0 for 2 on the power play, extending their drought with the man-advantage to 0 for 25 over seven games.
Penguins trying to hold off the Capitals
Danton Heinen scored for the Penguins (43-23-11, 97 points), who dropped to 3-5-1 in their past nine games. They wrapped up a playoff berth in their previous game but are in danger of falling into a wild-card spot.
“I thought the final 58 we were competitive,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I thought we played a solid game. But the first two, we weren’t ready to play. It’s hard to spot a team two goals like that in the fashion that we did.”
The Washington Capitals are five points behind the Pens with 92 points but have three games in hand on their rivals. Pittsburgh can almost to rest any chance of catching the New York Rangers, who recorded their second straight 4-0 win, this time over the Detroit Red Wings.
New York is currently up 7 points on Pittsburgh with a game in hand.
Pittsburgh goaltender Casey DeSmith had 27 saves in his first start since the team announced that No. 1 netminder Tristan Jarry is out week-to-week because of a lower-body injury that is believed to be a broken foot.
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin served the third game of a four-game suspension for a cross-checking incident.
It looks like a tough road ahead for the Penguins with regards to playoff positioning.
Bruins and Penguins to meet in Winter Classic
Earlier in the week, the NHL announced that the Boston Bruins will host the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2023 Winter Classic at Fenway Park.
The Penguins were sold earlier this season to the Fenway Sports Group, and since the setting is at Fenway Park, it really should not come as a surprise.
Per ESPN, the game will be played on January 2, 2023.
–Field Level Media contributed to this report.